Collecting Error Coins|
January 18, 2012
Excerpted from U.S. Coins and Currency, 2nd Edition by Allen G. Berman, available from http://www.ShopNumisMaster.com.
An error coin is a coin manufactured incorrectly or one that is manufactured correctly on damaged or incorrectly made dies. Errors have been produced by a wide variety of mistakes, from the wrong metal being used, to the coin being struck off center. The Mint tries to prevent such coins from getting out. In most cases, error coins are usually caught and melted by the Mint.
Because the modern automated manufacturing process creates far fewer errors and greater uniformity than in ancient times, collectors of modern coins actually prize such mistakes. (Similar errors may actually reduce the value of ancient coins.) Errors in larger coins, proofs and commemoratives tend to be scarcer because more attention is paid to the inspection process. Over the last 50 years, more have been getting out than in the past, and as a result, recent errors are not as valuable as early ones. Worth may also vary depending on the extent of the error.
Following is a list of the basic types of errors and how they are produced.
BIE Cent – a special kind of die chip in which a small chip out of the die between the “B” and “E” in “Liberty” looks like an extra letter “I.” Fairly common in the 1950s.
Blank – A blank, or planchet, is the piece of metal on which a coin is struck. Sometimes they escape the Mint with no processing whatsoever. Other times, they escape unstruck but do make it through the machine that upsets the edge slightly. These are called type I and type II blanks, respectively.
Brockage – Coin struck with a coin and a die instead of two dies. Caused by the previous coin adhering to one die. If it covers the whole die, it creates a “full brockage.”
Clashed dies – Coin struck with a die that has been previously struck by another die, leaving some of its impression behind. On the coin, the image of the primary die will be bold, and the image of the residual impression will be very faint.
Clip – Coin struck on a blank that has part of its edge missing. There are two causes. A regular clip is caused by the punching device attempting to cut out the form of another coin before a previously punched blank is out of the way. A straight clip is caused when a blank is punched out from too near the end of the sheet of metal.
Cud – A cud is a raised area of a coin near its edge. It is caused by a piece of the die chipping away. There is no striking surface in that spot to force the coin’s metal down.
Die Chip – A die chip is similar to a cud, but it can be very small and occur anywhere in the die, not just the edge.
Die Crack – A crack in the die will cause a very fine raised line across the surface of the coin it strikes. Larger cracks are worth more.
Doubled Die – Caused by several things, all in the die manufacturing process. The coins will appear blurred at first glance, but upon inspection, the details will appear to be doubled.
Double Struck – When a coin that has been struck fails to eject from between the pair of dies, it will receive a second impression, usually not centered.
Lamination – Occasionally called an “Occluded Gas Lamination,” this error is caused by improper mixture of metal when the alloy is being made. It will appear as flaking on the surface.
Mismatched Dies – This occurs when one of the two dies is intended for another coin. To date, all but one has been struck on a blank intended for the larger coin.
Off Center – When the blank is not lined up with the dies, only part of the impression is made. The other part of the blank remains just that: blank.
Struck Through – A coin that had foreign matter on the blank, which was impressed into the surface by the die.
Wrong Metal – When a blank intended for one coin is accidentally mixed into blanks destined for another and is struck with those dies.
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